Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Robert George Slezak (91) was born on November 8, 1931 and left this world to join his wife Charlene on
June 24, 2023.
He was born in Conrad, Montana to Elizabeth and Samuel Slezak. Six hundred acres of grain farmland in
Valier, Montana were home to young Robert. He spent his childhood years tending and harvesting crops
on the farm, hunting ducks, geese, chickens, and turkeys, and later working at a butcher shop. In 1953,
he chose to join the Air Force rather than take his chances with the draft. Bob’s first assignment was at
Mather AFB in Sacramento, CA.
Bob extended his duty and took a four-year tour at Landstuhl AFB in Germany, cross training to work on
jets that patrolled the Iron Curtain. One particular plane tail number caught him by surprise. Just four
months before joining the Air Force, Bob and his cousin had taken a trip to the Douglas Aircraft Company
in Long Beach, California to work on jet aircraft and now this same exact aircraft was sitting before him in
Germany. In 1959 with a six-year reenlistment, Bob was sent to George AFB in Victorville, CA. He
supervised and inspected jet aircraft that patrolled the west coast. It was business as usual during the
1962 Cuban Missile crisis except for aircraft armed with live ammo on a 24-hour alert.
In 1963, Bob took a special assignment to Edwards AFB in California, to work with Lockheed factory reps
and supervise experiments with different flight testing on the SR71 Blackbird. It was enlistment time once
again, and Bob took it to new heights, literally. His Colonel was in the cockpit of a double sonic F-106D
Delta Dart, and Bob was in the back seat when history was made on August 22, 1963. They flew over
the Mojave Desert at 40,000 feet and near Mach 2. For regular folk, this would be about 8 miles up and
1600 mph. Colonel Harry Hancock administered the reenlistment oath to Bob surrounded by small
American flags fit for the occasion.
Next came a one-year assignment to the Udorn Royal Thai AFB in Thailand. It was 1968 during the Tet
offensive, Bob was maintaining the control room. Communication with wife Charlene and their three
children back home was limited to letters. He told her about some things but “there’s a lot she don't
Bob spent his next tour at Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, NC. He was in the fighter wing control
room with a TDY (temporary duty) for six months in Korea. In 1972 he took recruiter training at Lackland
AFB in Texas for two months. He transferred to Alameda Air Station outside of Oakland, CA where he
supervised 26 recruiters. Bob was now an E8 with 24 years of service. Things were different, it was the
“changing of the guard” and it was time to say good-bye. The knowledge he learned as a “maintenance
man" carried throughout his life.
Bob worked at the Peterbilt factory in 1976 while getting a BA degree via correspondence school with
Columbia College. In 1978 Bob and family moved to the Seattle area where he worked at the Kent Post
Office. Bob and Charlene moved to Palmer AK in 1983 where they opened a restaurant, “The Fodder
House” and later produced totem poles that were sold around the world. They moved to Coeur d’Alene,
Idaho in 2004. Charlene woke up in heaven on March 2, 2017. Bob left to live with his daughter Debbie
in Poway, CA (outside of San Diego) where he spent his last six years gardening, sipping Moscato and
taking care of Debbie’s dogs.
He is survived by his younger sister: Janet, his three children: Debbie, Mike and Patty, his grandchildren:
Bobby, Jodi, Jason, Jennifer, Ashley and Sean and great grandchildren: Bri, Lucas, Caelan and Iain.
If you would like to make a donation in his honor, please visit: http://sdhumane.org/robert